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January 2015
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March 2015

February Mood Board



Hi guys! It's a little way into February but I've been on the fence about my mood board for this month. February - and March come to think of it - are almost those 'filler' months, where the shops are full of fresh spring trends but you have to bide your time for the weather to heat up a little. Coats are still firmly buttoned up and you start wishing away the weeks. January flew by with a haze of fun nights and lots of planning for my mini-break to Athens next week. So my mood board does have elements of my holiday wardrobe as I hear it will be around 15 degrees - bliss!

My work colleagues were laughing that I have already planned my outfits and the coordinating make-up looks for my holiday, but I don't see why you wouldn't! We are going for three nights and I am usually laid back in many areas of life, but I feel that you need to know exactly what you are wearing before packing a tiny hand luggage-sized set of clothes like I will be doing. When you go away with a gaggle of girls, it means there is not a lot of time in the bathroom, space in front of the mirror, or areas to lay out your outfits, so I tend to plan a few solid options and bring along a few extras. You can just about fit two pairs of heels into a hand luggage case so you need to know they go with each outfit!

I also relish in organising outfits and thinking about the vibes of my looks, and a holiday means you can really go to town. We are going away for my friend's hen do and she strictly banned any cheesy outfits, expletive inflatables, or any sort of male stripper (there goes my Magic Mike hope!). Well I can't cancel out them all but the maid of honour found that a perfect solution to the 'no fancy dress' rule was to have a themed dress for each night so the photos will still look awesome. One night will be James Bond themed as it's the groom's namesake, so we will all wear anything black and/or white with red lipstick, and one night will be gothic/vampire themed so I'm thinking LBDs, smoky eyes and berry lips. Each can be interpreted in our own style but will still have that focus on the celebrations at hand and feel a little out-of-the-ordinary. Or we may all look like we have came from a funeral!

For February, I have been gathering a few heavier make-up looks for inspiration as I don't often go to town with my make-up in the UK but I know 'less is more' does not apply to the Euro clubs. I'm seriously inspired by the '70s trend coming through but can't embrace this for a few months until I can pack away coats and jumpers, so I'm still coveting khaki shades, nude hues, and denim. Topshop have some new Joni jeans with frayed, cropped hems which I really have my eye on. I've also been lusting after homewear as I'm getting that urge for a Spring clean and bedroom refresh. If I had my own place, the themes would be marble, gold, nude, jade green and white. All pictures are from my Tumblr!


Clarins Skin Spa Birmingham: The Moisture Replenisher Tri-Active Facial Treatment


I have experienced heaven. I honestly have! This will go down as one of the most magnificent moments I have ever had as my recent facial at Clarins was absolutely divine. I was invited to try the spa in House of Fraser in Birmingham and I was not prepared for just how extensive and luxurious it would be. A total game changer!

I have mentioned recently that now that I am 25, I really need to act on the idea of 'prevention is better than cure' and invest in my skin. I am a believer of starting from the inside and getting your base right, as you could buy all the makeup products under the sun but it isn't going to be effective if you have only had a few hours sleep and have spent a week eating junk food and stressing out. I spent a long time figuring out why some people look so effortlessly stylish and I think it is all about having clear and tidy skin, hair and nails. Then soothing your soul means when feeling good on the inside, it radiates on the outside.

I have had facials before but these were honestly in a high street Chinese herbal medicine shop/salon and the benefits were more of the facial massage that really helped liven up my face before a night out. I also work a lot on the computer so the neck massage is also a fuss-free winner after a long week. I expected the Clarins facial to be just that - a few face creams and a massage, but it was SO much more.

With a demanding job and independent lifestyle, I am always on the go and monitoring my lengthy to-do lists. Taking time out to pamper yourself is now a necessary part of this cycle and will mean you are top of your game in other aspects of your life. The Clarins treatments not only targets your skin but they enhance your well-being and literally feed your soul. I was warmly welcomed to the spa by Abbi and discovered the safe haven of the treatment room. You actually lie on a raised bed with a crisp quilt in a low-lit room playing the soothing music that transports you from the street you have just left. It's very calming and inviting and you just feel like you want to be lying there forever. Abbi and I decided on The Moisture Replenisher Tri-Active Facial as my dehydrated skin definitely wishes I drink more water, even though I try to remind myself! You can undress if you wish and once you are cosied under the duvet and your facialist returns to the room, the lights are dimmed and the treatment begins. You don't feel exposed or even concious really as you float off into a blissful world.

The facial itself is a divine sequence of aromatic cleansers, masks, creams, and the Clarins Touch massage techniques that can only be described as ballet for the face! Mixed in is a head, neck and shoulder massage, arm and hand treatments, and even a foot cleanse, meaning you feel refreshed from top to toe and barely notice as each treatment glides into the next. It's so smooth that I was trying to take mental notes for my blog post but drifted off into a heaven of pure bliss and relaxation. The facial massage actually felt like there were 10 hands on my face and I felt so centred. I'm sure it would be very easy to fall asleep!

Afterwards you are slowly brought back to reality and have plenty of time to relax before sipping a drink in the bed and floating off back to the real world. I just couldn't believe how heavenly an rejuvenating an hour could be and it was pure and utter bliss. The treatment from start to finish felt so soothing and expert and you just know you are in very, very good hands for an hour and a half. What an experience! 

My treatment was complimentary so as to tell you all about the spa and experience, and so I felt that was definitely an excuse to walk away with my own purchase too! A few products were recommended to me at the end of the facial, but not pushed onto me, and I was really keen to have the Double Serum in my life. Abbi gave me a few tips on pushing it into my skin rather than rubbing it in, which mostly penetrates your finger tips, and I feel so good for having this in my routine now. I also booked in for another treatment before my holiday to Athens at the end of the month! I was just so impressed and would choose an appointment here over a new dress any day. The treatments are a good 90 minutes so you really do get so much for your spend, and would be wonderful before a big event too. The body treatments sound absolutely incredible; I have been eyeing up The Moisture Quencher or The Body Lift Sculptor as if my face can feel this good, imagine a whole body treatment! There is a treatment called The Sun Glow too which exfoliates and tans you - just imagine!

You can find out more on the website here and I would wholly recommend Abbi and the House of Fraser spa. I'm counting down the days until my next visit!


My Fitness Tips, Thoughts and Routine

 

I've never really spoken about fitness here but it is a hot topic at the moment, with sportswear ranges springing up left, right and centre. I've seen a few high street offerings but I'm hesitant to try any of these collections as heavy-duty active wear is such a specialist thing. If you are investing in clothes for the gym rather than wearing an old pair of legging and a baggy t-shirt, there are so many options to consider!

By way of my own fitness, when I hit 25 I started to feeling slower in general. As I work in an office, I spend most of my time sitting down, and this in itself can make you feel lethargic. As I've never had a car, I spend my entire life walking everywhere, carrying my shopping from the supermarket all of the way home, and pacing to and from work in every weather, every day. In some ways I am active, but I never felt pushed. In the past year I have tried a few things and really found what works and what doesn't work for me. I know what it's like to read those articles, follow the Instagram accounts and make a fitness resolution, only to feel disheartened, so here are my real life, manageable fitness thoughts if you feel the January or office slump like I do.


Work on yourself - not your selfie!

I'm generally motivated by treating my body like a temple (this can change on a Friday night!) and using it as a machine to propel me to do better at work, have more energy and thus make more money and travel further!  I've always had body confidence because, of all of the many things I stress about, I've always shown my body love. Maybe it's how I was bought up, with homemade meals all prepared from scratch and a mother who would never say a negative thing about herself or anyone else, and maybe it's because I've always known that the world is full of people of all shapes, sizes and colours, and there is no one definition of beauty. Having a characteristic that you think is not good enough does not mean you will be less successful, less loved or less anything. It's so true that beauty comes from the inside. I'm also big believer in that if something does play on your mind, then you should make the best of it. Teeth slightly wonky? Make them the most sparkling white colour, always beautifully polished and super fresh. Think your arms are too wobbly? Moisturise like there is no tomorrow so they are incredibly smooth and clear, and invest in a pretty manicure. There is no such thing as a flaw, only comparison. Once you do you and leave everyone else to what they are doing, you can focus on your own goals and work towards whatever will make you happy! You can't fail when you are doing yourself - it's always going to be yourself, just a version that you dig.


The best things in life are free.

First thing’s first: the first steps to a healthy life are free! If you got an extra hours sleep a night, took time to prepare nutritional meals, de-stressed, spent time with loved ones, and ate a solid breakfast errryday. Fitness isn't a quick fix or the foundation of a brand new you, it's almost the topping to an overall healthy life. So take small steps to the things you already do like sleeping and eating before joining an expensive gym. Then clear that clutter, rise early, and start freeing some time in your schedule, rather than make yourself feel bad for not exercising after a long day – that’s almost impossible!

My first flirtation with a gym membership was in Bristol and I turned up to the induction imagining it would be a stroll around the facilities. I didn't know this was the opportunity to actually get started, figure out how the machines work and get some tips on a workout routine, so I was never keen to go back as I had no idea what to do there! I tried a few classes and found they were really intense, and promptly ditched all of the leggings, sports bras and new trainers I had bought. I then joined the gym linked to my current job and booked an induction at a quieter time in the evening, revealing to the instructor that I had never done a squat before, let alone programmed a machine! They answer all of your questions and write down a programme of exercises (with diagrams if requested) so you can follow a sequence the next time you visit, rather than being faced with a whole gym. Every so often I schedule another session for a new routine to mix things up.


The fit kit.

What to wear? JD Sports let me pick out some items from their website and it has given me a new motivation. I can't wear my new items unless I work out, therefore I want to work out! I would begin a new fitness venture in your old trainers, leggings and your dad's/boyfriend's t-shirt and get a feel for what you like. Then it will be even more motivating to reward yourself with a hot new pair of trainers or killer leggings as you venture further into your new routine. I'm seeing lots of colours and grey marl out there in the fashion sports collections, but nothing is more easy-wearing than smoothing and supportive black leggings, with a high waist band so you can bend and stretch. The Dry Fit material of these Nike Leggings mean there are zero sweat marks. Have you ever been hot in grey jersey material? The worst choice! Then you need the sports bra to be sure any t-shirt can be draped over; it would be impossible to stretch out in a wired bra. A matching Nike Sports Bra is so satisfying. I like bouncy trainers like Roshe Runs so I still feel light on my feet, and I am sure to take off my makeup before working out so my skin can breathe out any toxins. After I shower, I use a natural moisturiser like coconut oil as not only is it cheap, but I prefer it to rubbing chemicals into my skin. I have an uneasy feeling about rubbing concoctions into my body but I'm totally fine with makeup and perfume?!


Gym hacks.

I've had various successes with my current gym. I have to pack my gym kit the night before and go straight from work, so often it is set in my mind if I'm going to the gym that day. I've varied from going three times a week to now, when I somehow seem to be tied up every night with socialising, work functions, errands or I simply don't want to go that day! If I decide not to, I leave my gym kit at my desk and consider going the next day. So my first thought is that you really have to be in the swing of going, but be ready to go on impulse. Fitting in an hour when you've had a break for a few weeks is better than feeling bad and promising yourself you will begin again on Monday though. If you have a car, you could always leave your gym kit in there all of the time, and choose a gym that's already situated along your usual journey if you plan to go after work, or one easily accessible on foot. 

Fire yourself up with mood boards, attainable goals, holidays and anything positive - not negative. Thinking positively is persuading your mind to do something and thinking negatively is telling yourself to stop doing something.

I know the gym is usually busiest on a Monday and Tuesday, so I tend to go towards the end of the week, and especially on blissfully empty Fridays! When you know you have the gym to yourself, it is must more tempting to go. You can also watch TV while on the bikes or treadmills; the perfect time to catch up with The Kardashians.

It’s best to start anything in such manageable chunks that you almost want to do more. Just go for 20 minutes at a time if you feel daunted. You will find you often want to stay longer, but just promising yourself a 20 minute work-out will not put you off going. If you're thinking '20 minutes, that's nothing, what's the point!?'. Try that 20 minutes and see how this builds up over the week. Get in, get out, and work out for longer if you do feel like it.

Being in an all-girls environment makes me feel so much less distracted. Sadly that’s not because I'm looking at loads of hunky men around me but that I just feel more focussed when there's not a stinky dude on the bike to my right or an angry looking guy panting on the mat next to mine!


To gym or not to gym.

Hate the gym? Now I can reveal I don't really like the gym too much and I'm not surprised they don't work for most people! My germophobe thoughts overtake when I imagine all of the sweating on each machine, so in your induction, be sure to rate the cleanliness of the gym if this might bother you too. There should be pots of disinfectant wipes across the gym floor that are used by each person to wipe down machine or mat they have just used - or you can use these before starting on one to give it a quick wipe over. Despite there being instructors everywhere, I never really know if the moves I am doing are using the right muscles or are in fact just harming my back for example. So the gym is almost my end-of-the-week prep if I am going out that weekend, almost like my routine of washing my hair, fake tan and pedicure just before Friday. If you have had a little gym session, you feel even more fabulous. I think of the outfit I’m wearing and how I want to *glow* rather than look drained after a hectic week. It's another way to make it the best night ever. Now that I have a purpose for the gym and I'm not going there 'just because', I have a few other options for the tiring midweek evenings...

I love a good class! The gym is not for everyone and is quite a failure on getting people to exercise. My one wholehearted recommendation is to join fun exercise dance or movement classes like Step, Zumba, Aerobics - anything to music! Sure there are classes at gyms and these are often high energy and intense, so you really do get a workout, but local church hall classes are just as good. I took dance classes for years and years when I was younger and this feels so natural to me and such a release. I love dancing with my girls on a weekend and this is almost like going to a club midweek!

When I'm in a gym, my mind naturally tells me 'You do not want to lift this one more time' whereas in a class, your mind works in tandem with everyone else as you follow the instructor from move to move. An hour flies by - especially if it's a fun class like Zumba. These classes can vary as some may be less intense than others, but you find local classes are not at all competitive and each person goes at their own pace. There will always be a granny at the back and a few giggling teenage girls. It's a very inclusive environment and you can work out without feeling self-conscious at all. They are so frills-free that it’s never daunting to go. 

A lady I know has been going to aerobics for 30 years! She didn't post snaps on social media, track her progress in an app, or buy a .pdf download of exactly which exercises will blow up her booty. She just went to a class - simple! And now 30 years later she has 30 years of classes behind her and still does them a few times a week even at 60. Amazing!

I stay with my Nan every week and she does not have internet at home so it's my chance to read. Fitness magazines are nowadays full of lifestyle tips and recipes that can be a tangible motivation, rather than a tab you save for later or a link you never go back to.

I'm seeing more and more YouTubers doing at-home work outs and every celeb has a DVD on the market, but unless you can run your own schedule, there is no way I would come home after a hard day's work and do an exercise routine in front of my sofa, rather than sit on it and relax! My home is strictly for unwinding, not getting hot and sweaty, and also there is just nowhere near enough room compared to an open hall or studio. I wouldn't be able to fling around without knocking over the TV or punching a wall! As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, for me exercise is so much about stretching out and moving for me after being stuck in a chair all day.

So I hope those tips were realistic and maybe inspired you to try a few slow changes and ease into a new class or try that gym again! It's not about what you should and shouldn't do or comparing yourself to a ridiculous Instagram before-and-after shot; it's about making a personal decision that is made up of so many small changes. They add up to health, confidence and a happiness that will pour into the other areas of your life that you love and value.

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